October 22, 2001
Whitworth Freshmen Launch College Careers as Gates Foundation Scholars
As a student at West Valley High School in Spokane, Wash., Jennifer Miner worked hard to achieve her goal of attending college. She took advanced placement and honors classes, was a member of the physics club and National Honor Society, and competed in athletics. But the cost of college tuition threatened to push Miner's goal beyond her reach.
A solution to Miner's tuition dilemma arrived during her senior year, when West Valley was selected as one of 16 Achievers High Schools in Washington state by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The school's selection meant hundreds of thousands of dollars in college scholarships were made available to talented, hard-working West Valley students whose families earn less than 75 percent of the state's median income.
The 13-year, $100-million scholarship program is part of the Washington State Achievers Program, a decade-long education initiative established in 2001 by Microsoft founder Bill Gates and his wife, Melinda, to help low-income students in Washington state gain access to higher education. The program is administered by the Washington Education Foundation, a non-profit organization that evolved from Governor Gary Locke's 2020 Commission of the Future of Post-Secondary Education.
Miner is one of seven freshmen attending Whitworth College in Spokane, Wash., who were named Gates Foundation Scholars during their senior year of high school. The students took part in a rigorous scholarship application process that included completing a written application, submitting two recommendations from school and community references, and participating in a leadership camp.
Miner, who is majoring in psychology at Whitworth, is now working toward new goals: graduating from Whitworth, earning a Ph.D. in psychology, and opening a private practice specializing in child psychology.
"The Gates Foundation scholarship took a huge financial burden off of me and my parents," Miner says. "It has meant that instead of having to work a great deal to put myself through college, I can spend more time studying and focusing on my educational goals. The scholarship also showed me that people support me and want me to do well in college, which is very motivating."
In addition to Miner, Whitworth's other Gates Foundation Scholars include Seth Sather, also a West Valley High School graduate; Angela Akre and Shawnna Midland, graduates of Stevenson High School in Stevenson; Gregory Annis and Sheila Sutherland, graduates of Yelm High School in Yelm; and Ernestcarl Policarpio, a graduate of Clover Park High School in Lakewood.
The Gates Foundation Scholars at Whitworth are among 1,076 Washington state students who were selected in 2001 as the first recipients of the four-year scholarships, which range from $1,000 to $6,400 per year, says Scholarship Program Officer Pamila Gant. Scholarship funds can be applied to any public or private college or university in Washington state.
The Washington State Achievers Program's top priorities include reducing financial barriers to college for talented, low-income students who are motivated to attend college, and ensuring that mentoring and academic support is available to students once they are enrolled in college.
"Whitworth already has firmly established faculty mentoring and academic support programs that help incoming freshmen," says Gordon Jackson, Whitworth's associate dean of the faculty and the college's liaison with the Washington State Achievers Program. "That makes it easier for us to give the Gates Foundation Scholars the help and attention they need to succeed in college, by linking them to an existing program."
Six weeks into her first semester at Whitworth, Miner has taken the first steps to earning her bachelor's degree and is making the most of the opportunities college offers.
"I've made strong friendships, I'm involved in several clubs, and I am really enjoying my classes," Miner says. "I love it here."
Located in Spokane, Wash., Whitworth is a private, liberal arts college affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). The college enrolls 2,100 students in more than 50 undergraduate and graduate programs.
Gordon Jackson, associate dean of the faculty, Whitworth College, (509) 777-4303 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Julie Riddle, public information specialist, Whitworth College, (509) 777-3729 or email@example.com.
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